Apple

Report: Facebook plotting Apple Watch competitor for as soon as 2022

A new scoop from The Information this afternoon shares details about Facebook developing an Apple Watch competitor with a focus on health and messaging. The possible smartwatch launch from the social media giant could happen as soon as 2022. more… The post Report: Facebook plotting Apple Watch competitor for as soon as 2022 appeared first…

A new scoop from The Information this afternoon shares details about Facebook developing an Apple Watch competitor with a focus on health and messaging. The possible smartwatch launch from the social media giant could happen as soon as 2022.
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The post Report: Facebook plotting Apple Watch competitor for as soon as 2022 appeared first on 9to5Mac.
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Break up the Telecom Giants

Early in February, a strange and humbly formatted quarter-page ad appeared in The Wall Street Journal. It was an open letter to AT&T CEO John Stankey from one Aaron M. Epstein of North Hollywood, California, who helpfully included his email address and phone number, should Stankey decide to get in touch about fixing his slow…

Early in February, a strange and humbly formatted quarter-page ad appeared in The Wall Street Journal. It was an open letter to AT&T CEO John Stankey from one Aaron M. Epstein of North Hollywood, California, who helpfully included his email address and phone number, should Stankey decide to get in touch about fixing his slow DSL connection.“Although AT&T is advertising speeds up to 100 MBS for other neighborhoods, the fastest now available to us from ATT is only 3 MBS,” Epstein wrote. “Your competitors now have speeds of over 200 MBS. Why is AT&T, a major communications company, treating us so shabbily in North Hollywood? Sincerely, Aaron M. Epstein, an AT&T customer since 1960.” As his sign-off suggested, Epstein is quite old—90 years old, in fact. And, as he told Vice’s Motherboard in an interview, AT&T was part of the fabric of his life well before he was a paying customer. “My family,” he said, “has had Bell service since I was born in 1930.”For nearly a century, American Telephone and Telegraph’s “Bell System”—a conglomerate that took its name from telephone inventor Alexander Graham Bell—essentially controlled telephone service in the United States. In 1984, after decades spent fighting the company, regulators finally succeeded in breaking up AT&T’s extraordinary monopoly with a federal consent decree that divided the Bell System into seven regional companies, or “Baby Bells.” Since then, those companies have gathered themselves back up into three: Lumen Technologies, Verizon, and the new AT&T, a multi-industry behemoth.This AT&T is still a major telephone company, with 100 million total customers. Unfortunately for Mr. Epstein and his 15.4 million fellow subscribers, AT&T is also America’s third-largest broadband internet service provider. And its 2015 purchase of DirecTV has made the company the nation’s second-largest provider of paid television. (In February, AT&T spun off DirecTV, but it still controls 70 percent of the company.)When it acquired Time Warner in 2018, AT&T gained control over many of the things DirecTV’s users and the rest of the country might want to watch. Need to catch up on the news? Maybe hear from some pundits on how large and terrifyingly powerful social media companies have become? You’ll find them on the AT&T subsidiary CNN. How about some entertainment—a hit network series like Young Sheldon or classics from HBO like The Sopranos or Game of Thrones? All of those shows belong to AT&T. Want a movie instead? AT&T’s subsidiary the Warner Bros. Pictures Group produces and distributes, by its own count, 18 to 22 major films a year—from superhero flicks like Zack Snyder’s Justice League to awards season favorites like the Fred Hampton biopic Judas and the Black Messiah—and holds another 10,000 films in its catalog.As big as it is, AT&T has another huge and powerful rival in Comcast—the country’s largest broadband internet provider and paid television provider, one of the biggest telephone providers, and the parent company of both NBCUniversal, which includes subsidiaries NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, Telemundo, and Universal Pictures, and Sky, one of Europe’s largest media companies. There are other major conglomerates in the media and telecommunications industries—Disney, ViacomCBS, Fox, Charter—but the power AT&T and Comcast hold over both content and the means of distributing content sets them apart.And yet the telecoms rarely enter our debates over “Big Tech” and corporate power in the internet age. Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Apple have shaped the basic nuts and bolts of the internet. Facebook’s dominance over social media and its share of the online advertising market have made it another giant in the eyes of many. But the telecoms, which hold the keys to the internet itself for millions of Americans, have accrued more than enough power, online and off, to be just as worthy of concern and scrutiny as all of those Silicon Valley firms. The telecoms are tech companies, and they are big ones—so big that they’ve become much larger than tech itself.When Ajit Pai’s Federal Communications Commission ended net neutrality in 2017, telecoms were given the freedom to speed up, slow down, or apply special prices to content on the internet for political, financial, or any other reasons salient to their executives. AT&T, for instance, has already exempted its HBO Max service from the data caps it imposes on competitors such as Netflix. This is where much of the power on the internet actually resides. Without net neutrality, internet service providers can simply cripple or boost entire websites as they see fit. Hot takes, viral videos, family photos, offbeat memes, and dangerous misinformation might get posted on Facebook and Twitter, where moderators can scrutinize their content, but both companies functionally sit atop a vast infrastructure they don’t actually command.For customers, access to that infrastructure is essentially segregated. According to a report last year from the Communications Workers of America and the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, more than a quarter of the households in AT&T’s network fail to meet the FCC’s standard for broadband speed. And despite billions in tax breaks and years of vaunted investments in upgrading its network, less than a third of AT&T’s households had fiber internet access in 2019. Epstein got a response from Stankey’s office and AT&T’s technicians not long after his ads ran, but in general, those lucky enough to receive upgrades have been the beneficiaries of what critics call “digital redlining.” The median income of households with fiber access is 34 percent higher than the income of households with just DSL.The internet is, again, only part of the telecoms’ kingdom. And we shouldn’t understate the importance of its other provinces. Take the news media. Much has been made of the ways in which social media and online journalism may be reshaping our politics for the worse. And it’s true that both are now important parts of the public’s information diet: According to Pew, 18 percent of Americans get their political news mostly from social media, and another 25 percent get it from news websites and apps. But the primary source for 45 percent of the country is still television. And even that figure understates the reach of traditional media. Much of the news that appears for discussion on social media is heard first on the networks or their web presences, and AT&T, for instance, owns CNN.com, the most visited news site in America.It probably shouldn’t surprise us that cable news pundits have more to say about regulating Facebook and Twitter than they do about breaking up the conglomerates that employ them. But can they be broken up? Again, AT&T was broken up once before. Its gradual reconsolidation and entry into new industries coincided with a major rewrite of our communications laws. While the Telecommunications Act of 1996 was putatively aimed at spurring more robust competition among cable, broadcast, and radio companies through deregulation, precisely the opposite happened. And now, 25 years later, the law is overdue for a rewrite—the internet, the explosion of the mobile phone industry, and other changes have rendered the communications and media landscapes all but unrecognizable.Fully restoring net neutrality by reclassifying internet service providers as “common carrier” utilities, like telephone providers, will be an easier lift with Democrats in control of the FCC. But last year, Bernie Sanders ran on a broader and more transformative goal—providing high-speed broadband for all through public investment. His plan would require all internet service providers to offer a basic internet plan, and preempt state laws limiting publicly owned broadband systems.Sanders’s proposal would bring us close to establishing quality, high-speed internet access as a true, equally accessible public good. He has also called for breaking up cable and internet monopolies and banning internet service providers from providing content. Both ideas would go a long way toward shrinking the telecoms.It’s also possible that telecom executives might do some of that work themselves. AT&T may decide to spin or sell off more of its subsidiaries. But the telecoms will never fully abdicate their places atop our information economy without government action. Our lawmakers should hop to it and bring our communications policies up to speed.
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No Surprise: Apple Study Confirms Period Cramps Exist

Social media users reacted to the preliminary findings with both applause and sarcasm. Some users said, “You could’ve just asked us,” and “Did they think we’ve been lying all this time?” Even still, others pointed to the benefits of having a large number of participants and long-term data to study women’s health.

Social media users reacted to the preliminary findings with both applause and sarcasm. Some users said, “You could’ve just asked us,” and “Did they think we’ve been lying all this time?” Even still, others pointed to the benefits of having a large number of participants and long-term data to study women’s health.
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View: A legislation for news media aggregators

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to discuss the world, the weather, the Quad alliance that includes the two countries along with US and Japan, and the samosas they could not share because a planned physical meeting had to be converted into a virtual bilateral summit last June on…

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi to discuss the world, the weather, the Quad alliance that includes the two countries along with US and Japan, and the samosas they could not share because a planned physical meeting had to be converted into a virtual bilateral summit last June on account of Covid-19. Morrison also brought up Australia’s pioneering law to make Google and Facebook pay for the content they display.The Australian PM would like India to join his crusade to level the playing field for the tech giants that aggregate content and the creators of the content who spend money on it, only to see the aggregators harvest the advertising revenue associated with the content. India should respond favourably. In the official readouts of the two leaders’ statements, the Australian side explicitly mentions the News Media and Digital Platforms Mandatory Bargaining Code Bill, currently being legislated in Australia, much to the chagrin of tech giants, whereas Prime Minister Modi’s statement contains no mention of the media platforms bill. India should decide to create similar legislation and inform the Australian government of its solidarity on this front, without losing time.Google and Facebook together account for 68-75% of online advertising revenue across most jurisdictions. Amazon has muscled into the market and now accounts for 9.5% in the US. This leaves media companies with less of what used to be the lifeblood of a thriving media: advertising revenue.Facebook and Google claim that they are doing news media a service by bringing readers to their sites. That hordes of readers are led to their stories by Google search and Facebook share is, no doubt, a source of much vicarious pleasure to media houses, but vicarious pleasure does not pay the bills. For that, the media companies need a fair share of the money advertisers spend on the audiences that flock to their content. It is the absence of such sharing that threatens the survival of many publications and has triggered regulatory remedies in Brazil and France and a full-fledged law in Australia to compel media platforms to entertainment o revenue-sharing agreements with creators of news content.Google initially threatened to leave the Australian market. After all, $4 billion is a tolerable sacrifice for a company that made $181 billion last year, to defend its position that everyone is allowed to link for free anywhere on the internet. However, it has changed its mind and struck a deal with Australia’s press baron Rupert Murdoch to pay him for showcasing the content of his publications. Google has struck such deals in other parts of the world, too. Facebook, too, tried to brazen it out. It removed Australian news from what was shared on its platform, but has reportedly had second thoughts. Facebook has “friended” us again, Morrison told a news conference on Saturday.Perhaps, Microsoft’s support for the Australian bill was altogether immaterial to these decisions, perhaps not. Microsoft has a search engine, Bing, and social media aspirations. It owns LinkedIn and wanted to buy TikTok in the US. It has no dearth of cash to back up these ambitions. Neither Google nor Facebook has any reason to walk out and leave open an empty field for Microsoft to walk in and occupy. Big Tech seems to have decided to tell the world that there is no such thing as Big Tech. Its individual members are going after one another in a visible display of mutual hostility. Apple has thrown the gauntlet at Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg has scooped it up and draped the banner of defender of small business over his shoulder, while calling Apple’s concern for user privacy as self-serving humbug. Apple’s next operating system upgrade promises to raise an alert when Facebook and its ilk track an Apple phone owner’s online peregrinations and ask whether to allow such tracking.Facebook is able to serve very targeted ads to its users because it harvests data on its members’ online behaviour from apps that share space with it on the phone or tablet, downloaded from App Store and Google Play. If Apple’s operating system allows users to block such tracking, it could dent Facebook’s ability to serve ads for haleem to food lovers and those for chanderi to fashionistas. It claims that depriving it of access to member tastes would deny its multitude of small businesses the ability to target ads to those receptive to what they have to offer. If a maker of tank tops ends up displaying its ads to avid watchers of the progress of DRDO’s Arjun, Facebook argues, Apple would be to blame and, thus, responsible for hurting the small entrepreneur. Whether these battles among tech titans are for real or a ruse to reduce US Congress’ hostility to Big Tech by claiming that Big Tech is maya, illusion, the battle between news media and content aggregators is real, and a matter of life and death for media. If democracy depends on the existence of a vibrant news media, it is essential that Google and Facebook share revenue with creators of the content they display to attract eyeballs and advertisers. India should give this imperative the backing of law. The move would not only strengthen domestic news media but also solidify the relationship with an important member of the Indo-Pacific grouping that India has every reason to value.
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Parler is back after going dark for a month

Parler announced that it will relaunch independently of other hosting services.   The social media site went down in January when Amazon Web Services, which hosted Parler, suspended it for violating Amazon’s terms of service. Parler was also suspended from the Apple and Google Play app stores for its lack of content moderation, which fostered…

Parler announced that it will relaunch independently of other hosting services.  

The social media site went down in January when Amazon Web Services, which hosted Parler, suspended it for violating Amazon’s terms of service. Parler was also suspended from the Apple and Google Play app stores for its lack of content moderation, which fostered discussions openly encouraging the riot at the Capitol last month.

Parler’s lack of content moderation is what made it so popular among far-right incendiaries who were banned from other social media sites like Twitter and Facebook for violating community guidelines. Both Amazon and Apple gave Parler the chance to implement and enforce stricter moderation. Instead, Parler announced Monday that it rebuilt from scratch and is relaunching to operate independently. 

“When Parler was taken offline in January by those who de

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